The Lottery vs. The Rocking Horse Winner

Categories: The Lottery

Shirley Jackson, the author of ‘The Lottery,’ does a fantastic job of pulling you into a feeling of warmth and friendliness. The use of colorful words that lead into the story giving a joyful mood, never letting the surprising ending become apparent until the very end. The suspense is thru-out the whole story wanting to know what the lottery prize will be. The story shows us that winning is not always a joyous occasion.

D.H Lawrence Starts ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’ starts his story set darkly and gloomily.

A beautiful woman who can never have enough. She always wants to be in a higher class than her current status. She feels luckless; it does get to the point that you do not feel sorry for her. It is the protagonist of this story that your heart will go out: Paul, a young boy with incredible power to predict a winning horse in a race.

Unpredictable a fitting assessment when comparing D.

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H. Lawrence ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’ and the story ‘The Lottery’ by Shirly Jackson. Both stories are going completely different paths yet to the same ultimate surprising ending.’ The lottery’ by contrast, starts on a beautiful bright and sunny day set on June 27th with flowers blossoming abundantly, suggesting a pleasant continuation of a story that has a happy ending. The village takes homage in an event more like a ritual every year. As this story unfolds, it pulls you in, hoping to know what the winner of the lottery will receive.

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The fact that all the town folk where preset at this drawing only adds to this unfolding story. With the name of the winner drawn from a well-beaten black-box, you’re still captivated in wanting to know what’s in the box. Critical uses of symbolism used and found in both short stories the rocking horse in one, and the other the black box, both hold significant parts within the stories. The perception of luck directly related to money gives misconceptions. Paul’s belief in his rocking horse is his luck. The mistaken impression of success is directly related to money leads only to misinterpretation. The black box and the comment made about a bountiful harvest betray the symbolism of that story.

Upon reading the two short stories, it is evident early on that the theme of each has its discrepancies. ‘The Lottery’ even though it starts bright and charry it is a story of gloom and a lack of love, In ‘The Lottery’ when Mrs. Hutchinson is protesting the stone of death that is about to happen, it is Mr. Summers telling the crowd to hurry and finish quickly eagerly. ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’ is very clear of a young boy’s love for his mother. There is a feeling that Paul displays an Oedipus complex in his obsession with trying to please her with more and more with money. Just before the unexpected death of Paul’s, he says to his mother That he is lucky all it takes is for him to ride his rocking horse, and if he can get there, then he truly is fortunate. The theme of both short stories is inherently different, but both having the same ending.

The tone is dull and dreary in The Rocking Horse Winner from the beginning but is consistent with plot and style. The author does not consider the hardships of Paul’s family as bad as he depicted. The mood of the story is gloomy and pessimistic, with short sentences and incomplete phrases. From his point, problems are exaggerated. This irony is felt in the expressions’ there must be more money. The father, who is always very handsome and expensive in his tastes, seemed if he would never be able to do anything worth doing. And a mother, who has a great belief in herself, fared no better and had taste just as expensive as the father. The irony is prodigious- people who have not the money to allow their children a better education can have a costly taste. Yet they call themselves the needy members of the family affording beautiful gifts for their Kids but remain poor for they do not live up to their ambitions.

The irony in ‘The Lottery’ is present though not in a completely ironic sense. The conversation between Old Man Winter and Mr. Adams is very ironic with Old Man Winter compares the refusal of other towns to participate, leading them back to living in caves, and nobody works anymore.


Both stories show many ironies giving the reader the ability to understand the true meaning of the overall works. The author’s purpose in ‘The Rocking Horse Winner’ shows the concept that obsessing over money can lead to evil. It was a story that had a touch of suspense throughout. ‘The Lottery’ tells us that not all traditions are appropriate; its tone warm and lighthearted until the very end.


  • Jackson, Sherley. ‘The Lottery’. Perrine’s Literature Structure, Sound and Sense. 13th ed., edited by Greg Johnson and Thomas R. Arp, Cengage, 2018, p. 264-271.
  • Lawrence, D. H.’ The Rocking Horse Winner’.’ Perrine’s Literature Structure, Sound and Sense. 13th ed., edited by Greg Johnson and Thomas R. Arp, Cengage, 2018, p. 297-310.

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The Lottery vs. The Rocking Horse Winner. (2021, Oct 15). Retrieved from

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